Jörg Widmann (born 1973 in Munich), is widely acclaimed as both a composer of fierce originality and a soloist of great resourcefulness. As a chamber musician he frequently performs with artists including Tabea Zimmermann, András Schiff, Kim Kashkashian, Helene Grimaud and Heinz Holliger. A number of fellow composers – including Holliger, Wolfgang Rihm and Aribert Reimann – have dedicated works to him. Meanwhile his own works have been premiered by distinguished interpreters: Pierre Boulez, for instance, gave the first performance of Widmann’s orchestral work “Armonica” with the Vienna Philharmonic, and Mariss Jansons directed the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks in a first performance of his Beethoven tribute “Con brio”.
Widmann, who studied composition with Kay Westermann from the age of 11, subsequently making further studies with Wilfried Hiller, Hans Werner Henze, Heiner Goebbels and Wolfgang Rihm, has an expansive understanding of the structural and sound-colour possibilities of the music of our time. It has served him well both in his own writing and in his responses to the music of others.
After a well-received ECM debut as soloist last year on Erkki-Sven Tüür’s concerto “Noēsis” (where he was heard alongside his violinist sister Carolin Widmann) now comes a portrait album that addresses Widmann’s creativity as composer and player.
Christoph Poppen conducts the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie in two major works of broad scope: “Messe” for large orchestra and “Elegie” for clarinet and orchestra. In between are the Fünf Bruchstücke from 1997, fascinating miniatures that find Widmann the clarinettist in speeding dialogues with Heinz Holliger, the latter making his recording debut as pianist. The Fünf Bruchstücke belong among Widmann’s first published works and also among several he has written to explore and extend the potentialities of his own instrument.
With small or large instrumental forces, Widmann’s work retains its power. As Markus Fein has written, “Whoever encounters the music of Jörg Widmann for the first time is astonished at its directness and intensity…The music breaks like a raging torrent over the listener.”
Jörg Widmann has received many awards for his work including the Arnold Schoenberg Prize of the Vienna Schoenberg Centre, the Claudio Abbado Composition Award, the SWR Composition Award, the Elise L. Stoeger Prize of the Lincoln Center Chamber music Society, New York, and more.
Concerts with Widmann’s music in 2011 include a programme of his works with the Collegium Novum Zürich at the Luxemburg Philharmonie on April 8. His music was chosen to open the Brahms Tage in Baden-Baden in May. Also in May, Franz Welser-Möst conducts the Cleveland Orchestra on a US tour playing Widmann’s Flute Concerto, with Joshua Smith as soloist. For other dates in Widmann’s crowded itinerary, visit his web site at http://www.joergwidmann.com/.
A number of major compositions are in preparation and important premieres next year (2012) will include performances of Jörg Widmann’s “Teufel Amor” with the Vienna Philharmonic under Antonio Pappano in April, new piano music with András Schiff in Carnegie Hall in May, a piano concerto with Yefim Bronfman and the Berlin Philharmonic under Simon Rattle in September, and a new opera with Kent Nagano conducting at the Bayerische Staatsoper in October.
Jörg Widmann is currently Professor of Composition and Professor of Clarinet at the Freiburg Staatliche Hochschule für Musik. His thoughts on music-making can be further explored in a book of interviews published by the Edition Neu Zeitschrift für Musik: “Im Sog der Klänge: Gespräche mit dem Komponisten Jörg Widmann.”
Christoph Poppen is well-known to ECM New Series listeners for his exemplary work with the Munich Chamber Orchestra on recordings of music of Hartmann, Bach, Webern, Silvestrov, Gubaidulina, Mansurian, Scelsi and Barry Guy, and also for his revelatory collaboration with the Hilliard Ensemble in “Morimur”. In 2007 he became the leader of the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken / Kaiserslautern. The ensemble resulted from the merger between two distinguished radio orchestras in the west of Germany in summer 2007: Rundfunkorchester Kaiserslautern from the Palatia region and the Rundfunksymphonieorchester des Saarländischen Rundfunks, based in Saarbrücken. The first ECM CD from Poppen and the German radio Philharmonic was “Triptychon”, exploring the music of Frank Martin. “Superbly performed … The newly created German Radio Philharmonic Orchestra responds very effectively to Christoph Poppen’s incisive conducting.” - , BBC Music Magazine